Brew Your Own T he man who introduced me to home brewing was also the man who introduced me to my wife, Allison. So you could say that man, Michael, has a special place in my heart. It all happened at the same time. I was a video art- ist and he was a musician in Houston. We worked together on several audio-visual projects at his house which doubled as his studio. It was there where he shared his home brew with me, and his friend Allison always managed to stop by. (I found out later that Michael would alert her when I was over.) Brewing is a practice that goes best with friends, so it wasn’t long before he requested my help. I was more than happy to oblige. I had grown fond of his delicious beer and was very interested in the process. Plus Allison was going to be there. Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but making your own beer and wine remained illegal until Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337 in 1978. This bill “allows any adult to produce wine and beer for personal and family use.” This opened home brewing as a hobby to anyone interested. Many hobbyists just wanted to recreate the full flavored beers they were able to get overseas, and some of them, through pas- Alan Buckland’s home brewery setup sion and hard work, realized that they had a real talent at it and went on to open their own breweries. Businesses popped up supplying home brewers with equipment and supplies. Home brew clubs formed where people just learning the craft could learn from other avid brewers. In 1984 Charlie Papazian, the godfather of home brewers, published The Complete Joy of Home brewing. Coining the now iconic phrase, “Relax, don’t worry, have a home brew,” he introduced the craft to many new people and gave excellent guidance to those already brewing, hungry for more knowledge. This book is considered by many in the home brewing community as the “home brewer’s bible” and is a required staple in any home brewer’s library. Papazian has since written five more books, and his original brewing spoon is now an artifact at the Smithsonian! Way to make history, Charlie. I would recommend home brewing to anyone who loves beer. Learning the craft will give you an appreciation for the art and the science involved in the creation of this most noble beverage. Home brewing setups can be as simple as a canning pot on a stove and a bucket, or a propane burner and a crawfish boil-sized pot and a glass carboy bottle, or something you’d find in a mad scientist’s lab. Any good home brew supply store can get you started right. You’ll need a pot for boiling your wort (unfermented beer), a heat source (your stove for a smaller pot or a propane burner outside), and a large bottle or bucket with an air lock for fermentation. For newcomers it’s recommended to use malt extract until you get the hang of fermenta- tion. Once you get fermentation down, you can move up to a “partial mash” where you steep specialty grains, and then combine that with the extract. After that you can move up to all grain brewing, where you have the most control over the resulting flavor and color of your beer. The ingredient options are as varied as the equipment needed in the process. Malt extract comes in powdered or liquid form. When combined with water, these extracts become the wort which you boil in your pot. If doing a mash with malted barley, you combine the milled grain (ground with your own mill or ground by your preferred supply store) with water at a temperature of about 150 degrees F. You’ll need a mash tun for this; a big modified beverage cooler works well. After the mash has rested, the liquid is separated from the solid grain by a process called lautering. This can be done using gravity or pumps with the aid of tubes and sprinkling devices. Once your wort is in the pot, it’s time for the boil. Boiling clarifies the wort and hops are added per the recipe. The longer hops are boiled, the more bit- terness is extracted; the less hops are boiled, the more hop flavor is extracted. A rigorous boil is necessary for good tasting beer, so a good burner is essential. Watch out for boil overs! Once the boil is complete you need to cool your wort completely and quickly. There are many ways and devices available to cool your wort. One simple way is putting your pot in an ice bath. Once cool (60 degrees is ideal), move it to your sanitized fermenter. Add your yeast, which comes in dry and liquid form. If you’re making an ale, room temperature is fine, but lager yeast needs refrigeration to get the temperature down to the 48 to 52 degrees needed for a cold ferment. After fermentation is complete (which could be one to two weeks for an ale, three to six weeks or more for a lager), it’s time to package!